Fascinating Glimpse of Ancestors’ Lives Exposed in Ancient Writing #poem #poetry #history #archeology #ancient

Cuneiform tablet

Early writing tablet recording the allocation of beer in southern Iraq, 3100–3000 BC

What do you share with ancients,
With people lost in time?
Messages in cuneiform
Reveal that
our worries rhyme.

Advice to sooth a baby,
Betray a brother’s fear,
your meal’s delivery,
Including all your beer.

Maps to aid your travels,
Proof your taxes
have been paid,
Seals that are signatures
That eons couldn’t fade.

Will future anthropologists
Revere your grocery list?
Concern themselves with UPS
From kin they can’t dismiss?

The world was once so different
At civilization’s s dawn,
But we are human,
as they were,
And our heirs
will carry on.

Kate Rauner

Thousands of cuneiform writings remain to be translated so we can understand the Mesopotamians who gave us the wheel, astronomy, the 60-minute hour, maps, economics and politics, and the story of the flood and  ark.

The records give us a picture of day-to-day life in ancient Mesopotamia, of power structures and trading networks, but also of other aspects of its social history, such as the role of female workers.

Thanks to advanced imaging techniques, anyone with an internet connection can now access treasures.

New imaging techniques are making the job of working with such ancient, often damaged texts easier… machines will eventually be able to translate more complex Sumerian tablets, and other languages like Akkadian. bbc.com

Geometry at Night #science #math #geometry #poem #poetry


Cuneiform tablets

A holy city worshiped bulls
Two thousand years ago
And gave the world astrology
Or so the story’s told.

Masters of geometry
They watched the sky at night
Saw stars that moved in retrograde
And puzzled at the sight.

Movements of the planets
Produce a twisted dance
They charted it with dents in clay
They had no proper graphs.

Geometry was once supreme
Before the calculus
Trapezoids drawn in the sky
For brains that functioned thus.

by Kate Rauner

Geometry is different – I’ve noticed that some people connect with geometry even if other forms of math leave them cold.

Astroarchaeologist Mathieu Ossendrijver, of Humboldt University in Berlin, has deciphered cuneiform tablets that predicted the planet Jupiter with fancy geometry found nowhere else in the ancient world.

“Ancient Babylonians used a complex geometrical model that looks like a rudimentary form of integral calculus to calculate the path of Jupiter. Scientists previously thought this mathematical technique was invented in medieval Europe.” livescience.com

“Trapezoid calculations were a tool for calculating Jupiter’s displacement each day along the ecliptic, the path that the sun appears to trace through the stars. The computations recorded on the tablets covered a period of 60 days, beginning on a day when the giant planet first appeared in the night sky just before dawn… Learning how the Babylonians astronomers acquired their geometric acumen ‘would tell us something about why human beings do science in the first place, and from time to time do it very well indeed.'” sciencemag.org

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